Review: ‘Eternal Beloved’

Mainland Chinese-born thesp Faye Yu makes a more than creditable helming debut with "Eternal Beloved."

Mainland Chinese-born thesp Faye Yu, known overseas for two Wayne Wang pics (“The Joy Luck Club,” “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”), makes a more than creditable helming debut with “Eternal Beloved.” “Romeo and Juliet”-like fable set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has a pristine look and delicate tone in sync with its main protags, a couple who promised to reunite in the afterlife. September release performed mildly in China, but there’s something here for patient fest auds in the West.

Newlyweds Mo Xiaoyu (played by Yu herself) and her teacher husband, Qin Yan (Tu Songyan), move into an idyllic country house where there once stood a monastery, burned down 50 years ago during internecine struggles. One night, Xiaoyu is visited by a lovelorn ghost, Ming (Duan Yihong), who tells her time is running out for him to be united with his beloved Jiu (also Yu) — cueing flashbacks about the family rivalry that drove them apart. Yu brings a stillness and composure to her twin characters that’s beautifully matched by Hong Kong d.p. Lai Yiu-fai’s lensing of hilly Yunnan locations and Zhou Tian’s warm, restrained score.

Eternal Beloved

China

Production

A Stellar Mega Media/Hua Xia Distribution Co. release of a True Image Pictures, Stellar Mega Film production. Produced by Sun Li, Faye Yu. Executive producers, Sun, Qin Hong. Directed, written by Faye Yu (Yu Feihong), from the short story "Ginkgo Ginkgo" (Yinxing yinxing) by Xu Lan. Executive director, Tian Zhuo.

Crew

Camera (color), Lai Yiu-fai; editor, Angie Lam; music, Zhou Tian; art director, Xiang Haiming; costume designer, Mo Xiaomin. Reviewed on DVD, London, Dec. 30, 2009. (In Beijing Screenings.) Original title: Ai you laisheng. Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

With: Faye Yu, Duan Yihong, Yao Lu, Li Jia, Tu Songyan, Gao Hu, Yu Xiaolei, Ying Baolin, Chen Yubiao, Duidui, Ji Yongqiang, Wang Yongcheng, He Jie.
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